Do Bettas Sleep?

The short answer is, yes. Betta fish, like most living creatures, need to sleep. They tend to sleep at night as we do. Though, some bettas are prone to a daytime snooze. 

The short answer is great but it doesn’t tell us much about betta sleeping patterns, needs, and weird and wonderful facts! So let’s dive a little deeper into betta sleeping habits. 

Dead or Sleeping? 

As betta fish prefer to sleep at night, you’ve probably never seen your fish sleeping before. This isn’t a problem until you come home late one night and see your fish floating upside down or at the bottom of the tank. 

Naturally, we assume the worst from the bizarre positioning. However, your betta may simply be sleeping.

Leaping in with a net to fish it out and give it a send off will startle your fish and might finish them off! Equally switching on the lights or tapping the glass will be quite a rude awakening for these light sleeping fish.

Instead, you need to take the time to carefully check whether your betta is getting some shut-eye.

Betta fish don’t have eyelids so you can’t tell if they are sleeping by checking their eyes. The first thing you want to do is look closely at their mouth and gills. They need oxygen while they sleep, albeit much less than when they are active. 

You should be able to spot your fish drawing water in through their mouths and pushing it out of their gills. It will be much slower than normal but you should be able to see it. 

You might also notice that your fish has dimmer colors when it’s sleeping. This is probably because it would want to appear less tasty to predators. Don’t be concerned, the color will come back when they wake up. If it doesn’t, then they might be ill. 

Sleeping Positions

Bettas sleep in weird places and shape. It’s not uncommon to see your betta curled up like a cat or dog. Their head will most likely be pointing down towards the bottom of the tank. 

Some bettas prefer to stretch out. In this case, you’ll find them floating vertically with their heads downwards. They might even have their fins out! Turns out even fish like to starfish at night! 

The best thing about sleeping bettas is that they chose the weirdest places to sleep! You’ll find them wedge between rocks, curled up on ornaments, tucked up on or behind tank equipment, and even snoozing out of the water!

Fun fact: betta fish can draw oxygen from the air for short periods! Because of this, you might find them laying on top of plants or ornaments above the water. You don’t need to panic. As long as they’re keeping moist by having part of their body in the water, they are fine.

Good Sleeping Conditions

Remember how I told you that bettas don’t have eyelids? Well because of that, one of the most important things you should do is switch off lights at night. They need darkness to be able to rest well. 

If you keep your tank in a living space make sure lights, TVs, and other appliances are off at night. If you’re a bit of a night owl, you might want to consider moving your tank out of the living room. Your bettas won’t appreciate your company at night! 

You could consider investing in an aquarium timer to make sure the tank lights are shut off at night. This is especially useful for those of us who are rather forgetful!

For daytime naps, you need to provide plenty of shade for your bettas. Think about hides and ornaments that give them a darker place to snooze.

Don’t be disheartened if your betta doesn’t like the den you picked out. They are funny little fish and as long as they have some shade to sleep in they’re fine. You could offer them a range of sleeping spots to try and make them happy.

Your bettas also need to be in a calm and quiet environment to sleep. As prey fish, they are always on alert. Bettas are light sleepers and won’t appreciate noise or movement when they sleep. 

Again, think about moving the tank to a room with little or no footfall during the night. 

Can Bettas Oversleep? 

Just like people, individual fish have their own sleeping needs. Some will sleep through the night, others only need a few hours. 

If your fish is constantly sleeping, you might want to think about changing some of the environmental factors before assuming the worst. 

If your tank is too dark for too long, bettas will sleep thinking it’s night time. You need a good balance. 8-12 hours of light is recommended for bettas. Again, an aquarium timer is perfect for maintaining the right sleeping schedule. 

Another reason for oversleeping is boredom. If they have nothing better to do, your bettas will sleep the day away. Make sure you provide them with toys and new environments to explore. 

The final environmental factor that might be causing your fish to sleep too much is the water temperature. Bettas like water that is between 78°-82°F. If the water is too hot or too cold, they’ll be a bit lethargic and sleepy. 

If the environmental changes don’t help your betta, they may be sick. Check them for common illnesses like fin rot, fungus, and worms. 

My Betta Won’t Sleep

On the other end of the spectrum, you can sometimes get insomniac bettas. 

Again, the first thing you need to do is check the environment. Make sure they have time and places to sleep. 

If the conditions are right but the fish won’t sleep, think about stress. Just like people, bettas lose sleep if they are stressed. 

Bettas are super territorial. If they have tank mates, they might feel too worried to sleep. Consider keeping your bettas in their own tanks if they seem to be avoiding sleep. 

Final Thoughts

When you think about it, bettas aren’t all that different from us. They need a dark, quiet, and safe environment to sleep. 

Without sleep, they can become grumpy and ill just like humans. So it’s important to give them what they need. 

And remember, bettas sleep with their eyes open!  Don’t automatically assume they’re dead!